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Balance to be struck to ensure vehicles comply with PUC norms, have third party insurance: SC

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said prima facie a right balance will have to be struck for ensuring that vehicles remain compliant with pollution under control (PUC) norms and, at the same time, have third party insurance.

The observation by a bench of Justices A S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan came while hearing an application seeking modification of the apex court’s August 10, 2017 order, which said the insurance companies will not insure a vehicle unless it has a valid PUC certificate on the date of renewal of insurance policy.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the General Insurance Council, said under sections 146 and 147 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, it was compulsory to have a third party insurance.

While section 146 of the Act deals with necessity for insurance against third party risk, section 147 pertains to requirements of policies and limits of liability.

Mehta said the apex court in August 2017 had said that unless there was a PUC certificate, third party insurance will not be given by insurance companies.

“What happens is, for want of PUC, 55 per cent vehicles as per our survey are uninsured,” Mehta said, adding, “55 per cent of the vehicles, as per the survey conducted by the Government of India, are uninsured meaning thereby if they meet with an accident, the victim do not get the compensation”.

He said PUC norms must be complied with and strictest possible norms should be put in, for example if the vehicle does not have PUC, don’t give petrol.

Senior advocate Aparajita Singh, assisting the apex court as an amicus curiae in the pollution matter, said this issue can be referred to the Commission of Air Quality Management (CAQM), an expert body.

“A balance has to be struck between both,” the bench said, adding, “One is that there has to be pollution control and secondly, if so many vehicles remain without third party insurance, in case of accident, there is a serious problem”.

Mehta said, in case of an accident, the owner of a vehicle may not have the money to pay even if the suit is decreed while in case of an insurance company, the firm is bound.

The bench noted it has been pointed out by Mehta that in view of the court’s August 2017 direction, a large number of vehicles are not taking third party insurance and, in the event of accidents, the claimants are finding it difficult to get compensation.

“Prima facie, we are of the view that a right balance will have to be struck for ensuring that vehicles remain compliant with PUC norms but, at the same time, all vehicles must have third party insurance,” the bench said.

It permitted Mehta and the amicus to come out with a solution so that appropriate modification can be made to the August 2017 order.

The bench posted the application for hearing on July 15 and asked both Mehta and the amicus to give suggestions before the next date.


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